Super Sunday Hamster Blender Blog

19 November 2007

Three Gallons of Water With Brains, Please

Who had a particularly disastrous last two months? And who was prepared for those disasters? Yes, prepared. You had warning, since September was billed as National Preparedness Month. I pretty much missed it. I guess I was unprepared.

So, yes, September was officially and federally designated as National Preparedness Month. Besides preparedness being awfully clumsy to say, it’s also awfully clumsy to do. Supposedly, this month was to make us aware of and be prepared for the many dangers lurking overhead, underfoot, and in our hearts. I imagine the reason they dedicated a whole month is because we have a boatload of worries to be prepared for, and, even then, a month hardly seems like enough time. Besides the usual slew of natural disasters – earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, Republicans – we also have to worry about terrorists, peace activists, vegetarians, vegans, mini-vans, mini-vegans, octogenarians, demons, aliens, cavemen, dinosaurs, canker sores, bed sores, bed bugs, computer bugs, email viruses, the Catholic diocese, and, of course, the giant squid.

When does it end? It doesn’t. The list is too big, too overwhelming, and I have a regular day job which prevents me from being prepared (add driving-into-Hartford as another terror to prepare against).

So what does one do? Cower in the basement and play Halo all day, every day? Absolutely. But that’s not being prepared, that’s being re-active. We want to be pro-active (which is a hell of a lot better than being amateur-active). Checking out the www.ready.gov web site is one place to start, although like most government initiatives such as flying cars and common sense, they are woefully inadequate. Apparently, the answer to just about everything is to have 3 days of food and 3 gallons of water on hand per person. And a flashlight, a whistle, TV Guide, batteries for your wireless XBOX controllers, and a fully-staffed hospital. I really don’t see how having 3 gallons of water is going to discourage a giant squid invasion when obviously they will be craving all the water they can find.

However, in defense of this site, it is tough to be prepared for everything. Certainly, having some rusted water and stale saltines around will help if you find yourself trapped inside for minutes during a light drizzle, and I encourage everyone to begin hoarding supplies and burying them randomly throughout your neighborhood. But we also must prioritize, and spend our precious preparedness on the most imminent dangers. Lucky for you, I have boiled them down to The Top Three Major Magnum-10 Magenta Threat Level Dangers to the United States and Its Developing Colony of Arkansas:

Number 3 Threat - Zombies

In case you haven’t noticed, zombies have taken it up a notch over the last few years. Zombie Model 1.0 – from the 50’s and 60’s – were a slow, stupid plodding bunch, similar to the elderly driving in the highway passing lane. Or the Democratic party. The current Zombie Model 2.0 can now run. They are also smarter; beginning to learn how to use tools and other intuitive devices, such as iPods. The zombie threat, once easily extinguished with fleet feet and a two-by-four to the head, has now intensified, requiring us to be much savvier in our preparation.

Your company or school certainly has emergency evacuation procedures, so I would immediately inquire on special precautions relative to a zombie outbreak. Chances are these procedures were last updated in 1967, and simply tell you to “run faster than them.” The authorities may look at you a bit funny when you approach them on this matter, and may even scoff and ask for proof that the undead are even a threat. Scoff back, and remind them that The Police toured this year.

The changes to be made are basic. For example, an update could include:

“Zombies tend to go to places familiar to them when they were alive, such as shopping malls. Instead, seek safety in places where no human would ever go, like Dick Cheney’s house,” or

“Kill Sting. He’s the leader.”

Since a zombie outbreak can occur suddenly and multiply rapidly, you need to always be ready. Unfortunately, carrying the anti-zombie weapons of choice – the shotgun, or Microsoft Vista – is frowned upon in most of the United States (except for the Developing Colony of Arkansas). As an acceptable and temporary measure, please carry spare brains in your pockets, backpacks, and handbags at all times. If a zombie comes, toss a couple of lobes at them to keep them momentarily occupied while you make your getaway to Dick Cheney’s house. And you know Dick will have a shotgun or eleven available.

Number 2 Threat - Anything that starts with a lower-case “e”

You know how this goes – eWhatever, to signify some vast cyber-intellect and post-modern info-twaddle. It started with eMail, then eBusiness. eMarketing. eBanking. eCommerce. eCards. eJesusHChrist.

The "e" stands for electronic, and has come to symbolize anything that has to do with a computer, tangled cables, or dance music. Once upon a time, back when we were still trying to figure out why everyone in the Twentysomething Chat Room was fortysomething, email was called Electronic Mail. Then it became e-mail. Then, the hyphen disappeared and now email passes spell check. Next thing you know, we get off playing The Sims. Of course, fortysomethings all pretend to be twentysomething.

This is akin to a viral infection. Pretty soon we are putting lower-case e’s on eVerything:

eVil – electronic evil; cyber-devil, Bill Gates
eTernity – electronic eternal life, Bill Gates
eWoks – small, furry, and unfunny electronic Asian cooking apparatus that just about ruined Return of the Jedi with their second-grade theatrics
eAster –a Christian religious holiday that resurrects eJesus into small, furry, & unfunny rabbits who deposit colorful cyber-eggs (“junk mail”) into your eMail account.

And do not get me started on the on-line self-prostitution service, eHarmony. Electronic harmony? What the fuck is that? Has anyone ever achieved harmony with electrons? Anyone who has a Windows-based PC certainly hasn’t, with all its crashing and infections and crapping all over the floor.

Not to mention that Apple, realizing that all the e’s were being taken, turned to i’s - iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iCult. Microsoft, not wanting to be left behind, went for the next available vowel – “7.”

The best defense against this menace is primarily not to use the e-terminology and instead, say “electronic” or anything else of your choosing. Preferably in a British accent. For example, start calling “email” “shitmail” around your company. Be consistent, and it will catch on. ShitHarmony works for me, too.

As a precaution, please also avoid using sister terms like cyber and virtual. I actually heard a high-level senior business leader say “we need to socially organize virtually.” As a business strategy. Not “we have to make more money than we spend” or something meaningful. He might as well as said “I like beets.” What an asshole.

Number 1 Threat - Work

First of all, work does not come with any warnings. No one tells you once you start working, you have sold your soul and every dream you ever had, the company you work for really does not give a shit about you despite the avalanche of free t-shirts and “we care” sloganeering pasted in dingy cafeterias, you will be trivialized and humiliated by performance reviews or team building events, you will endure unheard levels of frustration and depression watching so-called self-diagnosed leadership trumpet overused jargon and bring no value to the organization yet enjoy pay and bonus eclipsing yours many, many, many times over.

Actually, the only warning you probably got was perfumed advice from your graduation speaker telling you how much you can the influence the world and spread your wings and soar into the gossamer heavens. Chances are, your graduation speaker only got this honor by acquiring their position and status through cheating, lying, sleeping around, and stealing cable. Do me a favor, think of their speech five years after your first job, right after you sit in your performance review and are rated as “average” (read as “mediocre and barely tepid”), given a stellar 1.5% raise, and you finish plotting the murder of your graduation day speaker.

This endless, droning highway faced by college and college-bound hooligans is paved with absurdity – you pay to go to college, and in return, they educate you and you get a degree, which helps you get a job. The tables are turned; when you get that job, you get paid now, and in exchange, you give up everything you learned in college, not to mention your integrity, optimism, and dreams.

All you punk rockers, metal heads, liberal activists, idealists, zealots, Mac owners, compulsive flossers - anyone who stands on their principles – as soon as you start taking money and you toss aside those principles so you can buy power, sex, and shiny objects, you are eFucked. You sold out. Next thing you know you are sitting in a three-hour meeting hearing about “socially organizing virtually” while you’re daydreaming about going to Home Depot to admire the new paint color called Martha Stewart’s Placenta which might do wonders for the family room.

An excellent test of your work-futility is to try and explain what you do to some kids. If you feel yourself struggling and cringing (“Mommy makes sure people stick to their budgets, and a budget is…oh, fuck this…), then you’ve been assimilated in the working place of the damned. There are, of course, notable exceptions. Some occupations are very easy to explain without embarrassment, especially if you’re a cowboy, astronaut, or pelican.

Unfortunately, unless you find a job you love – which usually means you are doing something obscenely overpaid and adds no value to society, such as athletes, celebrities, and senators – you are screwed. Your best preparation is to accept this fact as soon as you can, and try to beat the system from the inside. The best way to be prepared for an impending lifetime of poorly paid hell is to have a plan of survival measures all based on actually working as little as possible. Now, technology is working against you, since they can see every site you surf and every piece of electronic shitmail you send. So you must resort to more primitive (i.e., classic) means. Taking naps in the bathroom stalls, making up religious holidays, planting heroin in your boss’s desk, wrapping both of arms entirely in black electrical tape and saying you have carpal tunnel syndrome, hiding every computer power cord in the office, releasing hundreds of mice, are all effective survival measures.

And carry some brains with you. Work tends to be the breeding ground for the undead.

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